By Hanah Tabios
Three days after one of the country’s most active volcanoes began spewing ash, Biñan City’s Materials and Recovery Facility (MRF) had the clever idea of turning sacks of volcanic ash into durable cement bricks.
Some social media users praised the local government unit for its resourcefulness. However, others were concerned about the health risks.
The city was among the areas heavily devastated by the ongoing ash fall from Taal Volcano’s eruption beginning Sunday (Jan. 12). Aerial images of Biñan show that its former green pastures have turned gray, blanketed by a thick layer of hazardous ash.
In some countries, materials produced from volcanic eruptions such as sand and ash are used as aggregate materials for cement-based products. The mixture of volcanic ash, sand, and cement, as its main component, can create concrete bricks.
According to an article published by New Atlas, one of the world’s largest independent science and technology publications, a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that pulverizing volcanic ash and adding it to the mixture can make physical structures stronger. But the mixture needs to be formulated correctly to produce a good product.
The health department earlier warned the public that exposure to volcanic ash and gases could lead to nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation, and minor skin problems.